Egyptian hieroglyphs were the formal writing system used in Ancient Egypt. Hieroglyphs combined logographic and alphabetic elements, with a total of some 1,000 distinct characters. Cursive hieroglyphs were used for religious literature on papyrus and wood; the hieratic and demotic Egyptian scripts were derived from hieroglyphic writing, as was the Proto-Siniatic script that evolved into the Phoenician alphabet. Through the Phoenician alphabet's major child systems, the Greek and Aramaic scripts, the Egyptian hieroglyphic script is ancestral to the majority of scripts in modern use, most prominently the Latin and Cyrillic scripts and the Arabic script and Brahmic family of scripts; the use of hieroglyphic writing arose from proto-literate symbol systems in the Early Bronze Age, around the 32nd century BC, with the first decipherable sentence written in the Egyptian language dating to the Second Dynasty. Egyptian hieroglyphs developed into a mature writing system used for monumental inscription in the classical language of the Middle Kingdom period.
The use of this writing system continued through the New Kingdom and Late Period, on into the Persian and Ptolemaic periods. Late survivals of hieroglyphic use are found well into the Roman period, extending into the 4th century AD. With the final closing of pagan temples in the 5th century, knowledge of hieroglyphic writing was lost. Although attempts were made, the script remained undeciphered throughout the Middle Ages and the early modern period; the decipherment of hieroglyphic writing would only be accomplished in the 1820s by Jean-François Champollion, with the help of the Rosetta Stone. The word hieroglyph comes from the Greek adjective ἱερογλυφικός, a compound of ἱερός and γλύφω; the glyphs themselves since the Ptolemaic period were called τὰ ἱερογλυφικὰ "the sacred engraved letters", the Greek counterpart to the Egyptian expression of mdw.w-nṯr "god's words". Greek ἱερογλυφός meant "a carver of hieroglyphs". In English, hieroglyph as a noun is recorded from 1590 short for nominalised hieroglyphic, from adjectival use.
Hieroglyphs may have emerged from the preliterate artistic traditions of Egypt. For example, symbols on Gerzean pottery from c. 4000 BC have been argued to resemble hieroglyphic writing. Proto-hieroglyphic symbol systems develop in the second half of the 4th millennium BC, such as the clay labels of a Predynastic ruler called "Scorpion I" recovered at Abydos in 1998 or the Narmer Palette; the first full sentence written in mature hieroglyphs so far discovered was found on a seal impression found in the tomb of Seth-Peribsen at Umm el-Qa'ab, which dates from the Second Dynasty. There are around 800 hieroglyphs dating back to the Old Kingdom, Middle Kingdom and New Kingdom Eras. By the Greco-Roman period, there are more than 5,000. Geoffrey Sampson stated that Egyptian hieroglyphs "came into existence a little after Sumerian script, invented under the influence of the latter", that it is "probable that the general idea of expressing words of a language in writing was brought to Egypt from Sumerian Mesopotamia".
There are many instances of early Egypt-Mesopotamia relations, but given the lack of direct evidence for the transfer of writing, "no definitive determination has been made as to the origin of hieroglyphics in ancient Egypt". Instead, it is pointed out and held that "the evidence for such direct influence remains flimsy” and that “a credible argument can be made for the independent development of writing in Egypt..." Since the 1990s, the discoveries of glyphs at Abydos, dated to between 3400 and 3200 BCE, may challenge the classical notion according to which the Mesopotamian symbol system predates the Egyptian one, although Egyptian writing does make a sudden apparition at that time, while on the contrary Mesopotamia has an evolutionnary history of sign usage in tokens dating back to circa 8000 BCE. Hieroglyphs consist of three kinds of glyphs: phonetic glyphs, including single-consonant characters that function like an alphabet; as writing developed and became more widespread among the Egyptian people, simplified glyph forms developed, resulting in the hieratic and demotic scripts.
These variants were more suited than hieroglyphs for use on papyrus. Hieroglyphic writing was not, eclipsed, but existed alongside the other forms in monumental and other formal writing; the Rosetta Stone contains three parallel scripts – hieroglyphic and Greek. Hieroglyphs continued to be used under Persian rule, after Alexander the Great's conquest of Egypt, during the ensuing Ptolemaic and Roman periods, it appears that the misleading quality of comments from Greek and Roman writers about hieroglyphs came about, at least in part, as a response to the changed political situation. Some believed that hieroglyphs may have functioned as a way to distinguish'true Egyptians' from some of the foreign conquerors. Another reason may be the refusal to tackle a foreign culture on its own terms, which characterized Greco-Roman approaches to Egyptian culture generally. Having learned that hieroglyphs were sacred writing, Greco-Roman authors imagined the complex but rational system as an allegorical magical, system transmitting secre
Mortuary temples were temples that were erected adjacent to, or in the vicinity of, royal tombs in Ancient Egypt. The temples were designed to commemorate the reign of the Pharaoh under whom they were constructed, as well as for use by the king's cult after death. Mortuary temples were built around pyramids in the Old Middle Kingdom. However, once the New Kingdom pharaohs began constructing tombs in the Valley of the Kings, they built their mortuary temples separately; these New Kingdom temples were called "mansions of millions of years" by the Egyptians. The mortuary temples were used as a resting place for the boat of Amun at the time of the Beautiful Festival of the Valley, during which the cult statue of the deity visited the west bank of Thebes; the first mortuary temple was built for Amenhotep I of the 18th dynasty during the New Kingdom. Several other rulers of this dynasty built temples for the same purpose, the best known being those at Deir el-Bahari, where Hatshepsut built beside the funerary temple of Mentuhotep II, that of Amenhotep III, of which the only major extant remains are the Colossi of Memnon.
Rulers of the 18th Dynasty either failed to build here at all or, in the case of Tutankhamun, Ay and Horemheb, their construction was not completed. The 19th Dynasty ruler Seti I constructed his temple at. Part of his "Glorious temple of Seti Merenptah in the field of Amun which resides at the West of Thebes" was dedicated to his father Ramesses I, whose short reign prevented him from building his own, was completed by his son Ramesses II. Ramesses II constructed his own temple, referred to as the Ramesseum: "Temple of a million years of Usermaatre Setepenre, linked with Thebes-the-Quoted in the Field of Amun, in the West". Much during the 20th Dynasty, Ramesses III constructed his own temple at Medinet Habu
Middle Kingdom of Egypt
The Middle Kingdom of Egypt is the period in the history of ancient Egypt following a period of political division known as the First Intermediate Period. The Middle Kingdom lasted from around 2050 BC to around 1710 BC, stretching from the reunification of Egypt under the reign of Mentuhotep II of the Eleventh Dynasty to the end of the Twelfth Dynasty; the Eleventh Dynasty ruled from Thebes and the Twelfth Dynasty ruled from el-Lisht. Some scholars include the Thirteenth Dynasty of Egypt wholly into this period as well, in which case the Middle Kingdom would finish around 1650, while others only include it until Merneferre Ay around 1700 BC, last king of this dynasty to be attested in both Upper and Lower Egypt. During the Middle Kingdom period, Osiris became the most important deity in popular religion; the Middle Kingdom was followed by the Second Intermediate Period of Egypt, another period of division that involved foreign invasions of the country by the Hyksos of West Asia. After the collapse of the Old Kingdom, Egypt entered a period of weak Pharaonic power and decentralization called the First Intermediate Period.
Towards the end of this period, two rival dynasties, known in Egyptology as the Tenth and Eleventh, fought for power over the entire country. The Theban Eleventh Dynasty only ruled southern Egypt from the first cataract to the Tenth Nome of Upper Egypt. To the north, Lower Egypt was ruled by the rival Tenth Dynasty from Herakleopolis; the struggle was to be concluded by Mentuhotep II, who ascended the Theban throne in 2055 BC. During Mentuhotep II's fourteenth regnal year, he took advantage of a revolt in the Thinite Nome to launch an attack on Herakleopolis, which met little resistance. After toppling the last rulers of the Tenth Dynasty, Mentuhotep began consolidating his power over all Egypt, a process which he finished by his 39th regnal year. For this reason, Mentuhotep II is regarded as the founder of the Middle Kingdom. Mentuhotep II commanded petty campaigns south as far as the Second Cataract in Nubia, which had gained its independence during the First Intermediate Period, he restored Egyptian hegemony over the Sinai region, lost to Egypt since the end of the Old Kingdom.
To consolidate his authority, he restored the cult of the ruler, depicting himself as a god in his own lifetime, wearing the headdresses of Amun and Min. He died after a reign of 51 years, passed the throne to his son, Mentuhotep III. Mentuhotep III reigned for only twelve years, during which he continued consolidating Theban rule over the whole of Egypt, building a series of forts in the eastern Delta region to secure Egypt against threats from Asia, he sent the first expedition to Punt during the Middle Kingdom, by means of ships constructed at the end of Wadi Hammamat, on the Red Sea. Mentuhotep III was succeeded by Mentuhotep IV, whose name is omitted from all ancient Egyptian king lists; the Turin Papyrus claims that after Mentuhotep III came "seven kingless years". Despite this absence, his reign is attested from a few inscriptions in Wadi Hammamat that record expeditions to the Red Sea coast and to quarry stone for the royal monuments; the leader of this expedition was his vizier Amenemhat, assumed to be the future pharaoh Amenemhet I, the first king of the Twelfth Dynasty.
Mentuhotep IV's absence from the king lists has prompted the theory that Amenemhet I usurped his throne. While there are no contemporary accounts of this struggle, certain circumstantial evidence may point to the existence of a civil war at the end of the 11th dynasty. Inscriptions left by one Nehry, the Haty-a of Hermopolis, suggest that he was attacked at a place called Shedyet-sha by the forces of the reigning king, but his forces prevailed. Khnumhotep I, an official under Amenemhet I, claims to have participated in a flotilla of 20 ships to pacify Upper Egypt. Donald Redford has suggested these events should be interpreted as evidence of open war between two dynastic claimants. What is certain is that, however he came to power, Amenemhet I was not of royal birth. From the Twelfth Dynasty onwards, pharaohs kept well-trained standing armies, which included Nubian contingents; these formed the basis of larger forces which were raised for defence against invasion, or for expeditions up the Nile or across the Sinai.
However, the Middle Kingdom was defensive in its military strategy, with fortifications built at the First Cataract of the Nile, in the Delta and across the Sinai Isthmus. Early in his reign, Amenemhet I was compelled to campaign in the Delta region, which had not received as much attention as upper Egypt during the 11th Dynasty. In addition, he strengthened defenses between Egypt and Asia, building the Walls of the Ruler in the East Delta region. In response to this perpetual unrest, Amenemhat I built a new capital for Egypt in the north, known as Amenemhet Itj Tawy, or Amenemhet, Seizer of the Two Lands; the location of this capital is unknown, but is near the city's necropolis, the present-day el-Lisht. Like Mentuhotep II, Amenemhet bolstered his claim to authority with propaganda. In particular, the Prophecy of Neferty dates to about this time, which purports to be an oracle of an Old Kingdom priest, who predicts a king, Amenemhet I, arising from the far south of Egypt to restore the kingdom after centuries of chaos.
Propaganda notwithstanding, Amenemhet never held the absolute power commanded in theory by the Old Kingdom pharaohs. During the First Intermediate Period, the governors of the nomes of Egypt, gained considerable power, their posts had become hereditary, some nomarchs entered into marriage alliances with the nomarchs of neighboring nomes. To strengthen his position, Amenemhet required registration of land, modified nome borders, appointed
Opening of the mouth ceremony
The opening of the mouth ceremony was an ancient Egyptian ritual described in funerary texts such as the Pyramid Texts. The ceremony involved a symbolic animation of a statue or mummy by magically opening its mouth so that it could breathe and speak. There is evidence of this ritual from the Old Kingdom to the Roman Period. Special tools were used to perform the ceremony, such as a ritual adze, an arm shaped ritual censer, a spooned blade known as a peseshkaf, a serpent-head blade, a variety of other amulets. A calf's leg was held up to the lips painted on the coffin; the ancient Egyptians believed that in order for a person's soul to survive in the afterlife it would need to have food and water. The opening of the mouth ritual was thus performed so that the person who died could eat and drink again in the afterlife; the ceremony involved up to 75 "episodes" and, in its most complete version, included the following stages: Episodes 1–9 Preliminary rites Episodes 10–22 Animation of the statue Episodes 23–42 Meat offerings aligned with upper Egypt Episodes 43–46 Meat offerings aligned with lower Egypt Episodes 47–71 Funerary meal Episodes 72–75 Closing ritesThe Book of the Dead contains a spell for this process, which the deceased may use on themselves: Translating as "opening of the mouth," the Egyptian terms for the ritual are wpt-r and um-r.
According to Ann Macy Roth, the verb wpi connotes an opening that splits, divides or separates: "it can be used, for example, to describe the separation of two combatants, the dividing of time, or an analysis or determination of the truth." Parallels between the Opening of the Mouth and Psalm 51 have been noted. The parallels include: Mentions of ritual washing with special herbs. Restoration of broken bones. "O Lord, open thou my lips". Sacrifices. Ancient Egyptian burial customs
Kek is the deification of the concept of primordial darkness in the Ancient Egyptian Ogdoad cosmogony of Hermopolis. The Ogdoad consisted of four pairs of four male gods paired with their female counterparts. Kek's female counterpart was Kauket. Kek and Kauket in some aspects represent night and day, were called "raiser up of the light" and the "raiser up of the night", respectively; the name is written as kk or kkwy with a variant of the sky hieroglyph in ligature with the staff associated with the word for "darkness" kkw. In the oldest representations, Kekui is given the head of a serpent, Kekuit the head of either a frog or a cat. In one scene, they are identified with Kait. In the Greco-Roman period, Kek's male form was depicted as a frog-headed man, the female form as a serpent-headed woman, as were all four dualistic concepts in the Ogdoad. In relation to the 2016 United States presidential election, individuals associated with online message boards, such as 4chan, noted a similarity between Kek and the character Pepe the Frog.
This, combined with the frequent use of the term "kek" as a stand-in for the internet slang "lol", paired with images of Pepe, resulted in a resurgence of interest in the ancient deity. Heqet Erebus Seawright, Caroline. "Kek and Kauket, Deities of Darkness and Night"
Ancient Egyptian concept of the soul
The ancient Egyptians believed that a soul was made up of many parts. In addition to these components of the soul, there was the human body. According to ancient Egyptian creation myths, the god Atum created the world out of chaos, utilizing his own magic; because the earth was created with magic, Egyptians believed that the world was imbued with magic and so was every living thing upon it. When humans were created, that magic took the form of the soul, an eternal force which resided in and with every human being; the concept of the soul and the parts which encompass it has varied from the Old Kingdom to the New Kingdom, at times changing from one dynasty to another, from five parts to more. Most ancient Egyptian funerary texts reference numerous parts of the soul: the ẖt "physical body", the sꜥḥ "spiritual body", the rn "name, identity", the bꜣ "personality", the kꜣ "double", the jb "heart", the šwt "shadow", the sḫm "power, form", the ꜣḫ. Rosalie David, an Egyptologist at the University of Manchester, explains the many facets of the soul as follows: The Egyptians believed that the human personality had many facets - a concept, developed early in the Old Kingdom.
In life, the person was a complete entity, but if he had led a virtuous life, he could have access to a multiplicity of forms that could be used in the next world. In some instances, these forms could be employed to help those whom the deceased wished to support or, alternately, to take revenge on his enemies; the ẖt, or physical form, had to exist for the soul to have intelligence or the chance to be judged by the guardians of the underworld. Therefore, it was necessary for the body to be preserved as efficiently and as possible and for the burial chamber to be as personalized as it could be, with paintings and statuary showing scenes and triumphs from the deceased's life. In the Old Kingdom, only the pharaoh was granted mummification and, thus, a chance at an eternal and fulfilling afterlife. However, by the Middle Kingdom, all dead were afforded the opportunity. Herodotus, an ancient Greek scholar, observed that grieving families were given a choice as to the type and or quality of the mummification they preferred: "The best and most expensive kind is said to represent, the next best is somewhat inferior and cheaper, while the third is cheapest of all."Because the state of the body was tied so with the quality of the afterlife, by the time of the Middle Kingdom, not only were the burial chambers painted with depictions of favourite pastimes and great accomplishments of the dead, but there were small figurines of servants and guards included in the tombs, to serve the deceased in the afterlife.
However, an eternal existence in the afterlife was, by no means, assured. Before a person could be judged by the gods, they had to be "awakened" through a series of funerary rites designed to reanimate their mummified remains in the afterlife; the main ceremony, the opening of the mouth ceremony, is best depicted within Pharaoh Sety I's tomb. All along the walls and statuary inside the tomb are reliefs and paintings of priests performing the sacred rituals and, below the painted images, the text of the liturgy for opening of the mouth can be found; this ritual which would have been performed during internment, was meant to reanimate each section of the body: brain, limbs, etc. so that the spiritual body would be able to move in the afterlife. If all the rites and preservation rituals for the ẖt were observed and the deceased was found worthy of passing through into the afterlife, the sꜥḥ forms; this spiritual body was able to interact with the many entities extant in the afterlife. As a part of the larger construct, the ꜣḫ, the sꜥḥ was sometimes seen as an avenging spirit which would return from the underworld to seek revenge on those who had wronged the spirit in life.
A well-known example was found in a tomb from the Middle Kingdom in which a man leaves a letter to his late wife who, it can be supposed, is haunting him: What wicked thing have I done to thee that I should have come to this evil pass? What have I done to thee? But what thou hast done to me is to have laid hands on me although I had nothing wicked to thee. From the time I lived with thee as thy husband down to today, what have I done to thee that I need hide? When thou didst sicken of the illness which thou hadst, I caused a master-physician to be fetched…I spent eight months without eating and drinking like a man. I wept exceedingly together with my household in front of my street-quarter. I left no benefit undone that had to be performed for thee, and now, behold, I have spent three years alone without entering into a house, though it is not right that one like me should have to do it. This have I done for thy sake. But, thou dost not know good from bad. An important part of the Egyptian soul was thought to be heart.
The heart was believed to be formed from one drop of blood from the heart of the child's mother, taken at conception. To ancient Egyptians, the heart was the seat of emotion, thought and intention, evidenced by the many expressions in the Egyptian language which incorporate the word jb. Unlike in English, when ancient Egyptians referenced the jb they meant the physical heart as oppos